Tag:Tom Brady
Posted on: December 16, 2011 9:19 am
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Pick-Six Podcast: Week 15 preview + Thurs review

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Thursday night's scorcher of a game between the Jaguars and Falcons kicked off Week 15's action, and the guys wonder whether Atlanta is getting hot at the right time, if Jacksonville has any hope and just how awesome Shahid Khan's mustache is.

Then they turn their attention to the rest of the week's slate, debating who's in more trouble if they lost Saturday between Raheem Morris and Jason Garrett, why Rick Perry is talking about Tim Tebow, how much trouble Sam Hurd is in and why he did the things he allegedly did, whether the Broncos can actually upset the Patriots, if the Eagles can make a run, why Joe Flacco is whining about Tim Tebow's media coverage and much, much more.

Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?

If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



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Posted on: December 15, 2011 11:02 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 12:48 am
 

Brees: Contract talks 'tabled' until after season

By Will Brinson

A story that hasn't received much attention since the season began is the new contract that Saints need to get franchise quarterback Drew Brees. Figuring out how much Brees should get is a fairly easy exercise, as he figures to slot in between the $18 million a year that Tom Brady/Peyton Manning got and the $16 million that Michael Vick got this offseason.

However, things hit a snag, apparently, and Brees said that he and the Saints "tabled" any discussion of a new deal for now.

"You know, I didn't want it to become a distraction," Brees said, per Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "And from the discussions we had, going back and forth, there was no progress really being made. I really wanted to just focus on football.

"It's been tabled for now ... and just hopefully will resume when the time is right."

There doesn't appear to be any animosity between the two sides with respect to a new deal -- Saints GM Mickey Loomis indicated he's been in contact with Brees agent Tom Condon and said he was open to making a deal whenever it worked out.


More than likely, the season began and the negotiations never got wrapped up. Although that appears to be playing out in Brees favor, as his dominant, potentially record-breaking performance could end up netting him more cash.

The Saints still have the option of placing the franchise tag on Brees in the offseason, so they won't lose him, but it would be pretty surprising if New Orleans entered 2012 having not given Brees a new deal.

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Posted on: December 15, 2011 11:12 am
 

Top Ten with a Twist: Why Broncos will beat Pats

Tebow

By Josh Katzowitz

In one of the premier matchups of the week -- and if you don’t believe us, check out Peter King’s MMQB in which he details the fight between NBC and CBS for the right to broadcast the game -- the Patriots travel to Denver to face the Broncos in a battle of first-place teams.

It’s Tom Brady vs. Tim Tebow. It’s the Chosen Son (Tebow) vs. God’s Gift to Quarterbacks (Brady). It’s Good vs. um, the Very Good. It’s the hottest team in the NFL vs. one of the best teams of the past decade.

It should be fun to watch, and considering the Patriots are about a touchdown favorite for their road game, New England should win the matchup. Of course, we’ve been saying that about most Broncos opponents for the past two months, and with the exception of the Lions, Denver has vanquished every team it’s played since Tebow took over the quarterback spot. If I had to bet my mortgage on the outcome of this game, I’d put my money on the Patriots.

But … it’s possible Denver somehow pulls off the win, especially given its amazing run during the past eight games. Thus, in this week’s Top Ten (with a Twist), I’ve come up with 10 reasons why the Broncos will win. Sure, Denver will probably need to play the perfect game while catching New England on one of its lesser days in order to pull off the upset, but as we’ve seen, you always should believe in the power of Tebow.

10. The running game: Willis McGahee has to be considered a contender for the comeback player of the year. He’s rushed for 920 yards this season, and considering he combined for 924 yards as a Ravens running back in 2009 and 2010 before he was deemed washed up, his contribution has been a bit of a surprise. But with the loss of Knowshon Moreno, McGahee has picked up the load. Except, of course, when Tebow is running the ball (his 517 yards rank him third among quarterbacks in rushing), because, as Brian Urlacher knows, he’s also a “good running back.” If the Broncos can keep the ball on the ground and keep Brady off the field, that obviously would be ideal for Denver.

9. The Broncos are best closers in the league: They came back in the fourth quarter against the Dolphins, against the Jets, against the Chargers, against the Vikings and against the Bears. It’s Tebow Time, and it’s been the most fun storyline of this NFL season.

8. Broncos home field advantage: When Denver began its late-game comeback against the Bears, the stadium got loud. Real freakin’ loud. The Broncos fans will be loud Sunday -- at least to start the game. The trick for Denver is to keep those fans engaged throughout the game, to keep it raucous when the Patriots are on offense. Hey, there’s a reason Brady is 1-3 in Denver during his career (and 1-5 against the Broncos overall).

Brady, Tebow

Tebow7. Tebow has better hair than Brady: OK, in the above photo, they’d probably fight to a draw, although personally, I give Tebow an edge because his style is less Bieberish. No, I’m talking about the photo at the right. That was the handiwork of Wesley Woodyard last year when the Broncos hazed the man who would eventually become the Boy Wonder. Not that Tebow minded his friar’s haircut at the time. "I think all the rookies had a good time with it. It was something to give everybody a laugh, something also to build chemistry.". By the way, if you Google image “friar hair cut,” Tebow pictures are the first three results. But getting back to the point. Could Brady pull off this look? I’m guessing no.

6. Broncos opponents are dumb: Or, at very least, they do dumb things when they play Denver. You might recall the tiny issue of Cowboys running back Marion Barber stepping out of bounds late in the fourth quarter last Sunday allowing Tebow the chance to tie the game and send it to overtime. Suddenly, defensive coordinators, late in games, play prevent defense -- Tebow has proven that those kind of schemes are not tough for him to figure out. Suddenly, teams send all-out blitzes against him and fail to contain the edge. Suddenly, nobody knows exactly what the Broncos are going to do on a two-point conversion. Tebow’s power is so great apparently that he turns the minds of opponents to mush.

5. Much-improved defense: Before Tebow took over the starting role -- and this was unfortunate for Kyle Orton -- the Broncos defense allowed 23, 22, 17, 49 and 29 points through the first five games. Since Orton was booted to the curb, Denver’s defense has allowed 15 points or less on four different occasions. The Broncos defense still is less than mediocre -- Denver ranks 22nd in points allowed and 19th in yards allowed -- but man, what any improvement it’s made.

M. Prater has won four games since T. Tebow took over (US Presswire).4. The kicking game: Falling far down on the list of why the Broncos are successful (behind the defense, the running game and Tebow) is Matt Prater. He was our near-unanimous Eye on Football special teams player of the week selection after blasting a 59-yard game-tying field goal at the end of regulation Sunday and then nailing the 51-yarder in overtime to win it. Since Tebow took over eight games ago, Prater has kicked four game-winning field goals. That’s a decent percentage. It’s almost like Prater is the Tebow of place-kickers.

3. Fox has been the better coach this year: Look at what he’s done. He’s recreated the starting quarterback who probably shouldn’t be starting at quarterback at all and helped build an offense that has allowed the Broncos to win seven of eight and put themselves in position to win the AFC West. Meanwhile, Belichick’s defense, which doesn’t officially have a coordinator, has been terrible. Belichick is one of the best coaches in NFL history, but Fox has been more adaptable this season.

2. Patriots pass defense: Look, it will take a huge effort from the Broncos defense to keep New England’s offense from taking over the game immediately. But if that happens, Tebow -- not necessarily known as the most accurate of passers --could find success against the Patriots, who boast the worst defense in the league AND the worst past defense. His receivers need to play cleanly (they had WAY too many drops last week), but Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker have shown big-play capabilities since Tebow took over the offense. With a rotating line up of journeyman defensive backs in New England, the Broncos could make life difficult.

1. God loves Tebow the mostest: So say these people, anyway.

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Posted on: December 14, 2011 10:14 am
Edited on: December 14, 2011 11:31 am
 

Film Room: Broncos vs. Patriots preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit


It might just be the most anticipated matchup of the season: Tom Brady vs. Tim Tebow. One quarterback inspires because he has it all and wins, the other inspires because he has none of it and wins. Let’s break it down.


1. Evaluating Tebow
If you want a rehashing of Tebow’s quarterbacking strengths and (many) weaknesses, or an opinion on whether the Broncos should invest long-term in their unconventional “star”, or a theory about motivation and inspiration and divine intervention, hit the message boards or talk radio. The focus of this post is on what Tebow has shown on film the past few weeks.

In short, he’s getting better as a passer but still has a long ways to go. He’s been very good against Cover 2 looks. He made the Vikings pay for their frequent (and, frankly, mind-boggling) mistakes two weeks ago, and he conjured up several critical late-game completions the week after, when the Bears moved from man coverage to a soft Tampa 2 (where a few goofs by the secondary and a lack of pass-rush killed them down the stretch).

Tebow remains slow in the pocket – in terms of progressions, decisiveness and ball release – and he falls back on sandlot tactics if his first read is not there. This isn’t the worst thing, though, as he’s clearly proven to be clutch in this style. He’s very effective on the move, both as a scrambler and passer. He can extend the play with a unique Roethlisberger-like sense for avoiding and shedding pass-rushers.

But unless the Broncos can continue to win while averaging less than 20 points per game offensively, they’ll need more aerial dimension, progression reads and overall consistency from their young quarterback.

2. Denver’s run game
When offenses put a bunch of bodies on the line of scrimmage, the natural assumption is that they’re relying on sheer human mass to bulldoze the defense and clear a path for the running back. In actuality, what they’re often doing is creating more running options for the back. The more players there are along the line of scrimmage, the more gaps there are for the defense to worry about.

This is why you frequently see the Broncos bring a receiver in motion down to the tight end spot just before the snap; it’s not the receiver’s blocking prowess that the Broncos like, it’s that his presence expands the run front surface. Generally, the defense responds to this by matching players to gaps (in other words, crowding the line of scrimmage).

The brilliance of Denver’s zone-option run is that it forces defenses to crowd the line of scrimmage when there’s still the threat of a pass. Granted, this passing threat is weak – usually only two or three receivers run routes, and defenses are happy to see Tebow throw – but it’s not weak enough for defenders to completely ignore. Thus, they’re distracted ever so slightly from their run-stopping assignments.

More than that, the zone-option presents a myriad of run possibilities on a given play. The ball could go to Willis McGahee, fullback Spencer Larsen, a sweeping receiver or stay with Tebow. And with so many options, the ball does not necessarily have to follow the direction of the blocking scheme.

These are all factors that defenders must mentally process after the snap. That’s not how defenders are accustomed to playing the run.
Also, keep in mind, defenses do not generally account for quarterbacks in the run game; Tebow’s threat as a runner has a wildcat effect that gives the offense a numbers advantage if the D does not bring an eighth man in the box.

3. How the Patriots will defend the run
A smart, fundamentally-sound run-defending front seven can still stymie the zone-option. Usually, it takes two stud linebackers and two stud defensive ends. The Bears and Jets both had these resources and, aside from a play or two, they both shutdown the Broncos’ ground game. The Bears did it out of a base 4-4 (safety Craig Steltz played in the box all game); the Jets did it out of a base 3-5.

Whatever the defensive alignment, the basic principles are the same: the linebackers must see the field well enough to track the ball and identify gaps. More importantly, they must run well enough to catch up to the ball (because, as we’ve examined, defending the zone-option is strict assignment football, where the reads are more details-oriented than in conventional run defense). The defensive ends must have the physical strength to penetrate against one-on-one blocking, as well as the discipline to stay within the strict confines of their edge duties.

It’s unknown whether the Patriots will follow Chicago’s 4-4 scheme or New York’s 3-5 scheme Sunday. They’ve alternated between various defensive fronts all season. More pressing is whether the Patriots even have the personnel. Inside linebacker Jerod Mayo is elite, but whoever’s next to him is most certainly not (Bill Belichick has tried a litany of different players here). At left end, Vince Wilfork is obviously a monster.

On the defensive right side, Andre Carter has been outstanding at times, but he may not have the necessary size to trade blows with a left tackle like Ryan Clady for four quarters. If the Patriots go with a 3-5 approach, they may want to rotate massive youngsters Ron Brace and Brandon Deaderick at end and use Carter’s flexible movement skills in space (ala Calvin Pace of the Jets).

Keep in mind, the Broncos have a sound rushing attack even without the zone-option. McGahee has a league-leading six 100-yard games on the season, and his front five is capable of winning one-on-one battles across the board. The Patriots got abused last week by a Redskins rushing attack that entered the game ranked 31st.

4. Back to the air
It’s entirely possible that Tebow and the Broncos will be able to move the ball through the thin Mile High air this Sunday. The Patriots’ pass-rush has been more “miss” than “hit” in 2011. Their secondary currently features a journeyman special teamer at strong safety (James Ihedigbo), a wide receiver and career-long special teamer at free safety (Matthew Slater) and another wide receiver at nickelback (Julian Edelman).

That’s the type of lineup you only see when someone is screwing around playing Madden.

If the Patriots bring Ihedigbo into the box, they’ll have to play either Cover 3 (zone) or man-to-man downfield. Because defensive backs must face inside when playing Cover 3, the way to attack them is with outside routes. Broncos wideouts Eric Decker and Matt Willis are effective on these patterns.

In man, cornerbacks must obviously stay with their assigned wide receiver. This season, Kyle Arrington and Devin McCourty have simply not done that. Arrington improved his ball skills but has still been exploited. McCourty has been just plain porous.

5. Patriots previous blueprint for Tebow?
We’ve looked at how the Patriots might defend the Broncos offense as a whole. What about defending Tebow specifically? One player who is somewhat similar in style is Vince Young.

The Patriots devised a shrewd gameplan when they faced the Eagles backup in Week 12. Using a mix of 3-4 and 4-3 looks, they focused on keeping Young in the pocket, forcing him to be a passer. They did this by jamming his tight ends and wing/flex receivers with defensive ends and blitzing linebackers.

That disrupted a lot of Young’s quick outlet throws and forced him to make reads downfield. When Patriot blitzers did actually go after Young, they always came from the front side. That way, Young would see the blitz and instinctively scramble to the backside. On that backside would be a defensive end in containment.

At the end of the day, this approach generated three sacks and 21 incompletions for the Patriots defense.

6. Other side of the ball
Even though Tebow has been at his most comfortable throwing against Cover 2, the Patriots would presumably love to play that defense often this Sunday, as that’s the tactic they tend to fall back on when protecting a big lead. The reason Tebow has not had to put together four good quarters of even semi-traditional quarterbacking during this six-game win streak is because no team has managed to jump way out in front against the Denver defense.

New England will certainly look to change that. Expect some form of hurry-up early in the game. Even if playing with a lead weren’t extra important this week, Tom Brady would still come out throwing, as it’s difficult to run against Denver’s base 4-3 (their tackles Broderick Bunkley and Marcus Thomas hold ground well, and their linebackers all cover ground well).

Most offenses would prefer facing Denver’s nickel D. It’s a much easier group to run inside against, and the revolving door at No. 3 slot cornerback has been a weak spot for the Broncos since Day One. The Broncos will likely use their nickel D against the Patriots’ base 12 offense (one back, two tight ends, two wide receivers). This will make John Fox’s group somewhat vulnerable to the run, but Fox would rather see Brady handing off than throwing.

Because so much of New England’s offense is horizontal, it’s important for a defense to have as much speed at linebacker as possible. In this sense, nickel linebacker Wesley Woodyard is better suited than starter Joe Mays. What’s more, in nickel, the Broncos can go with three downlinemen and create more space for their excellent inside blitzers, Von Miller and D.J. Williams.

Generating pressure inside is a must against Brady. The only way to disrupt him is to move him off his spot and make him play frenetic. The more Brady moves, the less likely he is to throw between the numbers. That’s critical, as these statistics show:

                            Tom Brady 2011 Passing Stats
          Between the Numbers         Outside the Numbers
   COMP %
                  73.4                     54.7
    YPA                   9.44                     7.31
  QB Rating
                 118.2                     86.8

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 15 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: December 12, 2011 10:27 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 8:04 pm
 

Tom Brady is impressed with Tim Tebow

Can Tim Tebow pull off another upset of Tom Brady? Who's the best fit for the Chiefs? How about the Dolphins? Is Eli Manning elite? Chat with our experts live at 1:00 pm ET Wednesday.



Brady only has laudatory things to say about Tebow. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Tom Brady is a believer. Either that or he learned something from Bears linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher, who recently had some back-handed compliments for Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.

Before Denver beat Chicago in overtime Sunday, Briggs said that "[Tebow] is one heck of a football player [but] we're going to have to stop that crap." And Urlacher, after the game, called Tebow "a good running back." (And technically that's true even if Tebow looked as much like an actual passing quarterback against the Bears as he has at any point during his NFL career.)

Well, Brady, who will face the Broncos Sunday, had only laudatory things to say about Tebow during his weekly radio appearance on Boston's WEEI.

"All of us were watching the game last night on the airplane; just as we were taking off was when they came back and won the game," Brady said (via ESPNBoston.com).

"It was an exciting game. They obviously have a very good team," he continued. "They play for 60 minutes. They've obviously closed a lot of games and finished very well. We have a huge test. We'll all be excited, and hopefully have a good week of preparation and be ready to go on Sunday."

New England has little trouble scoring points, but their defense is among the NFL's worst. According to Football Outsiders' metrics, the Pats' D ranks 26th (20th against the run, 26th against the pass). The Broncos have been a run-heavy team since Tebow took over the starting gig in October, but he set single-season highs in attempts and completions against the Bears (21 of 40, 236 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT).

Consequently, Brady isn't buying the talk that Tebow is out of his element (which, frankly, is a storyline pretty much everybody else has abandoned, too).


Patriots quarterback Tom Brady argues with offensive coordinator/QB coach Bill O'Brien after his fourth quarter interception.

"Everyone says he struggles throwing the ball," Brady said. "What I saw [Sunday], he had no problems throwing the ball. He threw the ball extremely well when I was watching."

And Brady's even fine with not being the most talked about quarterback heading into the matchup."That's OK. Believe me, there is great reason. They're winning a ton of games and he's playing very well."

Head coach Bill Belichick, meanwhile, had kind words for the entire Broncos organization.

"They have a good football team. It's certainly not one player," he said. "They've done it a lot of different ways. They're throwing the ball, running the ball, driving it. They've been making critical plays when they have to make them, whether it's a strip sack or a field goal. They're doing it as a team."

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Posted on: December 12, 2011 2:27 am
Edited on: December 12, 2011 2:35 am
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 14

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action and figures out the most important storylines for you to digest. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Make sure and listen to our Week 14 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.


1. They're Not Saying 'Boooooo' ...

True story: Just over two years ago, T.J. Yates came on the jumbotron at the Dean Dome during a North Carolina game as the lead-in to a UNC football video, said "I'm T.J. Yates and I'm a Tar Heel," and Yates, who was in the crowd, was booed mercilessly by Tar Heel fans in attendance.

One surprisingly strong senior season and a slew of injuries to Houston quarterbacks later, Yates is the starting quarterback for the first Texans team to ever make the playoffs. He's no figurehead, either, as his play in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 20-19 victory in Cincinnati showed.

We think that logic and common football sense says a rookie quarterback can't take a team deep into the playoffs, but does it? This Texans team's success is predicated on running the ball and playing defense.

And that's not too far off what Mark Sanchez and Ben Roethlisberger leaned on as rookies. Both those guys went to the AFC Championship Game, as a rookie quarterback mind you.

Yates is different than those Sanchez or Roethlisberger because he's matured under tough circumstances, his expectations are lower, he didn't leave school early so he's more experienced and he's got good mentors surrounding him on the roster.

If Houston gets into a shootout with an opponent or finds themselves with a huge halftime deficit, they're probably in trouble. But if that happens, it's not on Yates anyway -- the defense and rushing attack probably already let them down.

Just remember that when it comes time to debate the viability of the Texans in the postseason that the rookie quarterback under center is about as viable as the stereotype that the Texans can't stop anyone on defense.

2. Where It's Due in Denver

It's about time, in this LOL-worthy Tim Tebow saga that hit another high with Denver's 13-10 overtime win over Chicago Sunday, to give credit where credit is due. No, not the defense. No, not the running game. No, not the super-human effort from kicker Matt Prater on Sunday. No, not John Fox or John Elway.

Let's give credit to ... Josh McDaniels.

Remember, McDaniels is the guy that drafted Tebow and blossoming receiver Demaryius Thomas. Both might have been reaches when they were taken (25th and 22nd overall, respectively) and both looked like absolutely horrid selections pretty recently. But McDaniels obviously knew something about these guys and his premonitions and talent evaluation is paying off for Denver now.

Look, there are guys that were taken after Tebow and Thomas that are better overall additions to a roster (Dez Bryant, Rob Gronkowski, Devin McCourty stand out), and the value McDaniels wasted at those spots is disappointing. Also, given the Rams struggles on offense this year, handing credit his way isn't exactly the chic thing to do.

But as we get further from his nightmare regime in Denver and more ensconced in Tebowmania, it at least warrants a tip of the cap to McD for his decision to select two guys who are starting to fulfill the expectations that come with their draft slot.

3. Cowboy Down

We spent the better part of the podcast (you can listen above, just by clicking play!) trying to figure out who to blame for Dallas' failings in their 37-34 loss to the Giants on Sunday night.

But since Rex Ryan egged on some defensive coverages, Tony Romo egged on a big third-down throw to Miles Austin and Jason Garrett egged on clock management, isn't it possible that it's a systematic issue across the team as a whole?

We assume that because there's a new coach running the show, with different coordinators in place and some new players, that things are different. But things just aren't.

Jerry Jones knows this -- with the Giants at the goal line and the clock ticking down, an NBC camera caught him screaming "Timeout, Jason!"

Give credit where credit is to due to Eli Manning and the Giants for clawing their way back into this game, because it was a pretty magnificent comeback, something Eli's becoming quite proficient at this season.

But these Cowboys just can't close. We've seen it over and over this season and at some point, the bossman's patience for a lack of execution is going to run out.

4. Start 'Em/Sit 'Em?

The Packers have, with their 46-16 obliteration of Oakland in Green Bay, now officially clinched a first-round bye. Thanks to the 49ers losing to the Cardinals on Sunday, Mike McCarthy's team is just one win or one San Francisco loss away from clinching homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.

But Sunday's victory came at a price -- star wide receiver Greg Jennings is likely out for the remainder of the regular season. Aaron Rodgers said that "hopefully" the Packers can get Jennings back in time for the team's first playoff game, following their bye, which is approximately five weeks from now.

This begs the question: will McCarthy and Green Bay chase 16-0 with the same fervor as the Patriots?

Losing someone like Jennings is debilitating to their run at repeating as Super Bowl champions, but it's not a dealbreaker because of all the talent they have at the various skill positions. Losing Aaron Rodgers? That's a whole different story.

And what if someone like Charles Woodson or Tramon Williams or Clay Matthews was lost for the rest of the season playing in a meaningless game? Yeah, that would be bad.

There's no right answer that doesn't involve "winning the title" so it's unfair to judge whatever McCarthy and Ted Thompson decide to do. We don't know how things would play out in an alternate universe. But Jennings injury might be a bad sign for the chances at Green Bay running the table.\

5. Familiar Feeling

New England is streaking towards a likely No. 1 seed right now. And they have a  kerfluffle on the sidelines between Tom Brady and his offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien that everyone can talk about. And there's the whole "Can I draft Rob Gronkowski in the second round of my fantasy league next year?" debate that might be worth discussing when going over interesting things about this team. 

But I can't shake the fact that the Redskins piled up well over 500 yards passing between Rex Grossman and Brandon Banks (!) plus 120 rushing yards from Roy Helu and narrowly lost to the Pats 34-27.

Again: the Redskins did this. Back in 2009, New England got throttled by the Ravens in Foxborough, because Baltimore had a stout defense and Ray Rice went HAM on a Pats defense that couldn't shut him down.

This year? The Patriots defense, a season-long problem for the team, reminds a lot of that squad, in that they can't stop anyone who's physical and can play ball control. Or, really, they can't stop anyone -- only four teams have scored less than 20 points against the Pats, and one of those was quarterbacked by Tyler Palko.

There are a lot of good defensive teams headed to the playoffs in the AFC, with a lot of good running backs, and some pretty talented quarterbacks.

Brady and Belichick are great about covering up flaws on a roster, but when they run into a physical team in the playoffs, we might see a similar result from years past.

6. So You're Telling Me There's a Chance?

The 2011 NFL season wouldn't feel right if we didn't get a Lloyd Christmas-inspired false-hope run from the Eagles and Chargers, would it?

The Eagles are still alive after a 26-10 beat down of Miami, although making the playoffs at this point involves jumping a whopping five other teams, and is about as likely as the Eagles retaining Juan Castillo next season.

San Diego's path to the postseason should have been a little bit easier, because the Raiders lost and the Broncos were supposed to lose (see: Tim Tebow doing what Tim Tebow does). Now things are much murkier, as San Diego needs either the Jets -- a team they should have beaten -- to go 1-2 down the stretch, or the Broncos -- another team they should have beaten -- to lose. And the Bolts have to win

8-8 and 9-7, respectively, are doable based for the two teams, based on their schedules. But even that kind of effort might not be enough to save the jobs of certain people in certain positions for these teams.

7. Call It a Comeback, Kid

For the second time this season, four teams in a single week overcame 12-point (or more) deficits to win.

Why? Well, as it turns out, offensive points aren't the only exciting thing that's happened as a result of the offense-friendly rules the NFL installed over the past few years. Comebacks occur more frequently too.

And big comebacks as well -- Atlanta, Jacksonville, Houston and Arizona were all down by 12-plus points and mounted a comeback in Week 14 -- in Week 2, another four teams did it as well.

Limitations on members of the secondary, limitations on defensive players hitting quarterbacks and the middle of the field opening up because of defenseless receiver rules mean teams are able to sling the ball around more frequently.

Defenses simply can't clamp down on teams when they have a lead and if someone takes their foot off the gas (see: the Panthers vs. the Falcons on Sunday), a comeback is absolutely in the cards.

8. Taking Flight

Note to anyone who ends up in a December-only fantasy league: draft Shonn Greene. Dude gets unholy hot when the weather gets cold and he's doing it again this year, with four touchdowns and well over 200 yards the last two weeks, including a career-high 129 rushing yards in a blowout win against Kansas City Sunday.

Not coincidentally, it might be smart to not write off the Jets ever again. Somehow, someway, they manage to win enough games to sneak into the playoffs.

Rex Ryan's crew is doing it again, and even though this rendition of the Jets is clearly inferior to the previous two seasons, it's hard to count them out.

Twice in his two years as head coach, Ryan's used a formula to get to the AFC Championship Game despite fighting uphill to even get into the playoffs. And now he's doing it again.

The Jets last three opponents -- Buffalo, Washington and Kansas City -- are about as cream-puffy as it comes, but you only have to play the people on your schedule. So I'm really not sure why this wasn't as obvious an outcome as Greene being largely irrelevant for fantasy teams until now.

9. Get Your Mojo Running

Lost in some of the fantastic Week 14 action was the fact that the incredibly underrated Maurice Jones-Drew, the only elite skill-position player that the Jaguars have, set the franchise record for career touchdowns, surpassing the also incredibly underrated Fred Taylor.

"Mojo" did it on a day in which he went absolutely b-a-n-a-n-a-s, rushing for 85 yards and two touchdowns, and catching six passes for 51 receiving yards and a pair of scores through the air as well.

“Words can’t really explain how excited I am,” Jones-Drew said.

Jones-Drew's one of the prototypes for the modern NFL back -- small but powerful, quick, great hands and a secret workhorse. (Not to mention he's a stalwart in the community, and a good guy to boot.) Amid an often ugly offensive performance by Jacksonville on a weekly basis, MJD's been insanely consistent in 2011.

Dude deserves some love.

10. Great Expectations

It's fascinating to see that Raheem Morris and Steve Spagnuolo are two guys everyone agrees find themselves firmly on the hot seat. That's because last year, Morris and Spags were a combined one game away from both being in the playoffs last year.

Morris won 10 games with the surprising Buccaneers and even though Spagnuolo went 7-9, he had a shot at winning the putrid NFC West in the final week of the season.

The 17 total wins for the two teams has created a pretty terrible predicament for the coaches who nearly got them to the postseason though: both guys are looking like strong candidates to be fired after the 2011 season.

Tampa Bay lost its seventh-straight game in horrific fashion on Sunday when Blaine Gabbert and the Jags dropped a 41-14 bomb on the Bucs and the Rams are scheduled to start Tom Brandstater against the Seahawks. That will probably not end well.

The point of all this is that the NFL is a what-have-you-done-for-me lately business and Spags and Morris have lost lately. A lot.

Muffed Punts

Leftovers from Sunday's Action ...
... Packers have now scored 466 points on the season, the second-highest total in NFL history through 13 weeks, behind only the Pats 503 in 2007.
... Drew Brees and Johnny Unitas are the only two quarterbacks in NFL history with 40-straight games with passing touchdowns.
... Rob Gronkowski has the all-time record for touchdown receptions in a single season by a tight end with 15.
... Eli Manning's 400-yard passing performance was the 14th over the season, an NFL record.

Worth 1,000 Words


GIF(S) O' THE WEEK

You can see video of KC kicker Ryan Succop executing the worst onsides kick in the history of football right here, but this GIF of the three-yard putt/kick is just mesmerizingly depressing.



And I'm double dipping this week again, as Jabar Gaffney's dive into the seats without being caught is just too much fun to ignore.


Hot Seat Tracker

  • Steve Spagnuolo -- Spags really, really needs a win on Monday night against the Seahawks.
  • Raheem Morris -- As noted above, this team won 10 games last year!
  • Todd Haley -- After righting the ship, the Chiefs are back to sinking. This may be related to "starting Tyler Palko" but still, Haley's the coach.
  • Jim Caldwell -- *stares blankly at Colts record*
  • Norv Turner -- Norv's fanning the hell out of his seat, but the Chargers might not have enough games left to make up for the bad start.

Award Worth Discussing of the Week

Aaron Rodgers has retired the MVP watch and the Colts are locked into Andrew Luck so I'm adjusting on the fly. Today's award worth discussing: Coach of the Year.

I find this race fascinating because you have four primary contenders, all with totally different situations.

There's Mike McCarthy of the Packers, who's threatening to run the table with a defending Super Bowl champ. Then there's Jim Harbaugh, who's made the a talented, underachieving 49ers team relevant again and quickly. They're the two favorites.

Then there's the underdogs: John Fox, who continues to win despite Tim Tebow flying under the radar in terms of media attention, and Gary Kubiak, who will not let a quarterback injury kill his season.

If McCarthy goes undefeated it's impossible not to give him the nod because, well, they didn't lose. But if the Packers falter at all, Harbaugh's sheen could fade enough down the stretch (a loss to Pittsburgh and struggles against Seattle and St. Louis maybe?) to let Fox and Kubes make a play for the award.

My vote, provided things play out the way they have so far, is for Fox, since he's winning with less in a way no one ever saw coming, well ahead of when people believed he'd win.
Posted on: December 11, 2011 5:56 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2011 6:00 pm
 

VIDEO: Tom Brady, Bill O'Brien argue on sideline

By Will Brinson

On Sunday, Tom Brady threw a rare red-zone interception against the Redskins and decided to let someone know that they did something wrong.

Offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien seemed to disagree with Brady, and the two got into a heated argument on the sideline that CBS Sports cameras caught.

A few minutes later, Bill Belichick had to help separate the two when O'Brien decided he hadn't full explained his point of view to Brady.

The good news for everyone involved, though, is that Brady and his OC hugged after the game, so everything's probably OK. But things got a little tense for a while there at the end of the game, which is probably understandable, considering they gave Rex Grossman a shot at beating them with the pick.



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Posted on: December 10, 2011 4:34 pm
 

For the gambler in you, Week 14

Tebow

By Josh Katzowitz


Each Saturday, we’ll take the best -- and most clever -- odds collected by bodog.com for the upcoming week and give our take. This is important stuff, perhaps the most important post you’ll read all week. Because if you can’t lose money while watching a game in which you have absolutely no effect, what’s the point of watching sports at all?

Will the Denver Broncos trail at any point in the fourth quarter and still beat the Chicago Bears?

Yes 7/2

No 1/5

I’m going no, because I don’t think the Broncos will be trailing the Bears in the second half at all. Ah, the power of Tim Tebow (and the deficiency of starting Caleb Hanie).

Who will finish second in NFL MVP voting?     

Tom Brady (NE) QB 2/3       

Drew Brees (NO) QB 3/2       

Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) QB 5/1       

Tim Tebow (DEN) QB 10/1     

As much as I want to say Tebow -- even if it’s just for some good old fashioned CBSSports.com unity with colleague Gregg Doyel -- I’ll go with Brady to finish behind Aaron Rodgers in the MVP race. Brady is too easy a selection after Rodgers not to pick him.

Will Tony Sparano be the head coach of the Dolphins for Game 1 of the 2012 regular season?   
    
   
Yes -150    

No +110 

Ha, no. But I think Sparano and his team have done the city proud with the way the Dolphins are playing. You have to think Sparano is impressing somebody, even if that somebody is not Miami owner Stephen Ross.

Will Donovan McNabb sign with an NFL team during the 2011 regular season?      
 
Yes 2/1       

No 1/3

If the Bears, who are in desperate, desperate need of a legit starting quarterback, passes on claiming McNabb, you have to think nobody else will be interested. The more interesting question: is McNabb’s career over? For that, I’d say yes.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com